Contrasts Agents

Thursday, 03 March 2005 17:54


In some scans, a contrast agent (paramagnetic agent) may be injected into a vein.

This is usually administered after some initial scans have been performed, so that there are pre- and post-contrast scans.

The usual agent for spine disorder investigation is gadolinium.

The contrast agent should NOT be used in pregnancy or in patients with allergy to it.

Other medical problems:

Side effects of contrast agent;

Fairly common minor:

Less common/rare relatively minor:


Serious (need medical attention), uncommon/rare:


These side effects have been reported with similar agents to gadolinium: not all have been reported for gadolinium specifically but as it is similar to other agents, it is possible that the above side effects may occur.

Gadolinium has been used extensively to facilitate diagnosis of patients with Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, as it enhances scar tissue but not disc tissue, which therefore allows distinction to be made between recurrent disc herniation (treatable by surgery) and scar tissue (fibrosis) which tends not to be amenable to surgery.

However, more recently, more high resolution scanning techniques have rendered the use of gadolinium less necessary for this purpose.